28 September 2017

The political enthusiasm of Spain’s Podemos

Foto: Nynke Vissia

Issuing from the Spanish protest movement 15M, the newly-founded left party Podemos, won – “to their own amazement” – five seats in the European Parliament and 20% of the votes in the Spanish general election. Researcher and writer Frans Bieckmann, founder of the progressive thinktank The Broker, says that “Podemos breaks with neoliberalism’s groupthink. They want to determine the rules of the game themselves.” Below Bieckmann answers question from SP monthly Tribune.

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27 September 2017

European Commission 'is shooting itself in the foot' with new asylum proposals

The European Commission today presented its new proposals for a 'more effective and fairer EU policy' on asylum and migration. According to SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong, the various different plans work against each other. “On the one hand they're at last making efforts to develop a more effective and humane returns policy, something that's essential for the maintenance of sufficient popular support for the reception of refugees in their neighbourhoods. There's also more going to be invested in resettlement in the refugees' own regions and in development in Africa,” said De Jong. “But at the same time the Commission is opening the door wide to economic migrants – this serves the interests of no-one except employers looking for cheap labour. With these proposals the Commission is shooting itself in the foot.”

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25 September 2017

Kox: “Convention-based system interesting alternative to current European Union”

SP Senate Leader Tiny Kox, who also serves as leader of the United Left Group in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), sees the Council of Europe’s convention-based system as an alternative to what he describes as the European Union’s ‘one-size–fits all’ approach. Apparently, colleagues across the political spectrum in PACE feel the same: last week they voted unanimously to support Senator Kox’s proposal to put the evaluation of the Council of Europe’s unique system high on the agenda of the coming summit of heads of state and government. “The political leaders from the forty-seven member states need to consider whether they agree with my report when I say that the convention system on which the Council of Europe rests remains worthwhile,” says Kox. “If so, then they must invest a great deal more time, effort and resources in the making and implementation of conventions, and in monitoring them once they are in force.”

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20 September 2017

Hijink: 'Hold on to jobs and know-how at Tata Steel'

SP Member of Parliament Maarten Hijink is urging the government not to sit by and look on as mass redundancies loom at  Tata Steel in Ijmuiden, a town on the mouth of the North Sea Canal in North Holland. Indian parent corporation Tata Steel will shed as many as 2000 jobs as part of a merger agreement with Germany’s state-owned enterprise  ThyssenKrupp.  Hijink wants to ensure that the jobs and know-how at Tata Steel will remain in the Netherlands. 

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18 September 2017

Barend Wind: ‘The Netherlands is one of the leaders when it comes to inequalities in housing.’

Since the 1980s the mortgage market in many European countries has been liberalised. In these countries, which include the Netherlands, inequalities of wealth have grown enormously. Below, sociologist Barend Wind talks about the housing policies in other European countries and what the Netherlands can learn from them.

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12 September 2017

Commission must act to protect franchise holders

Foto: SP

The European Parliament today voted by an overwhelming majority to adopt a report by SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong on how to tackle abuses in the franchise system. “Franchises are seen principally in the retail trade, but they’re found in many other sectors too,” explained De Jong. “In itself franchising can be a useful formula, but unfortunately a large number of abuses result from the fact that in most cases the franchise-giver is much more powerful than the franchise-holder. To date the European Commission has taken no action in relation to this. This has to change. The European code of conduct for the sector must be tightened up and enforced, and the Commission needs to prepare a list of dishonest trade practices. And competition laws must be adjusted.”

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1 September 2017

Venezuela - regime change or democracy?

Venezuela has been in the international spotlight for some time. Its economy is in difficulties, there’s hyperinflation, living standards are deteriorating rapidly and social unrest is growing. Falling oil prices, a one-dimensional economy based on oil exports, and failing economic policies mean that there is a shortage of food, medicines and other basic products. Democracy is under pressure and incumbent president Nicolas Maduro’s support and legitimacy are being lost as a result of his repressive actions.

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29 August 2017

SP and Labour Euro-MPs demand immediate action on truck drivers’ safety

Foto: Diederik van der Loo

The safety of lorry drivers on European motorways is increasingly under pressure. SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong and PvdA (Dutch Labour Party) MEP Agnes Jongerius today received a petition signed by 8,000 drivers which sounds the alarm bells. “It’s scandalous that national governments aren’t even doing anything about providing secured parking for trucks, while drivers are faced with increasing violence and criminality,” says De Jong. “The governments of the Netherlands, Belgium and France are together responsible for the major routes between our country and Calais, but are doing far too little. Today, as well as accepting the petition, Agnes Jongerius and I have also written to Dutch Infrastructure Minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen and her Belgian and French counterparts urging them to meet urgently to discuss and take measures to guarantee drivers’ safety. These should include not only secured parking places but also an alarm line for drivers that really works, as well as the police and courts making it a priority to tackle incidents quickly and effectively.”

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21 August 2017

Time for an offensive to keep energy company sustainable and in public ownership

State-owned energy company Eneco is threatened with privatisation. The city council executive in The Hague, as well as those in Rotterdam and Dordrecht have spoken forcefully in favour of the sale. This is outdated policy, based on outmoded ideas. It’s time to launch an offensive to keep Eneco sustainable and in public ownership.

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